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Hartnett: Derek Jeter, Baseball’s Mr. Consistency

Far From Finished, Jeter Has Shot At 4,000 Hits
Derek Jeter (credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Derek Jeter (credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
» More Columns

Remember when you thought Derek Jeter was finished?

Many thought Jeter’s best days behind him in June 2011.  After all, he was batting .260 at that point of the season and was coming off a year where he hit a career-low .270.  Once Jeter returned from the disabled list, he went on to finish the 2011 season with a strong second half and raised his average to .297.

At age 38, Jeter’s hairline is receding — but his skills at the plate sure aren’t.  His 2012 numbers are the best he’s produced since 2009 — the year he finished 3rd in the American League MVP voting.

Jeter leads the AL with 153 hits.  His 2012 batting average of .318 is higher than his career average of .313.  Jeter’s 2012 average, on-base percentage and slugging percentages are all the best he’s produced since 2009.

Jeter is batting .373 in 11 games this month.  He has recorded seven multi-hit games in August.

All-Time Consistency

On Saturday, Jeter collected his 150th hit of 2012 season — tying Hank Aaron’s major league record of 17 consecutive seasons with 150 hits.  That’s particularly amazing because in 2003, Jeter separated his shoulder on Opening Day and missed 36 games.

“What he’s done in the game goes without saying,” Jeter said of Aaron after tying the record. “I just try to be consistent.”

Since his first full season in 1996, he’s given the Yankees an everyday consistency like few players have given their teams in recent history.

Tony Gwynn, Hank Aaron, Paul Molitor… Jeter belongs in that elite class.

Like a rare few before him, Jeter is showing unbelievable consistency in the twilight of his career.  I’m not sure how much longer Jeter can go on, but he appears to determined to prove that age is just a number.

Hank Aaron batted .301 at the age of 39.  At 40, Paul Molitor batted .305. 41-year-old Tony Gwynn hit .324 in his final season of 71 games.

Is 4,000 hits realistic?

It really makes you wonder how much longer he can keep it up.  A man who knows a lot about consistency, Cal Ripken, Jr. believes Jeter can flirt with the 4,000 hit mark.

“When it’s all said and done, he’ll be pushing close to 4,000 hits,” said Ripken.  I don’t know if he’ll get to Pete (Rose)’s record (4,256), but he’s sure going to be passing a lot of people.”

Many have counted out Jeter before.  He’s proven them wrong time and time again.  As he gets closer to 40, these voices will continue to grow louder.

Jeter is projected to finish with 217 hits this season.  Let’s add those potential 64 hits to his career total of 3,241.  That’s 3,305.

If Jeter plays at high level for four more seasons, he has a chance at surpassing the magical number of 4,000.

Jeter needs an average of 175 hits per season over the next four years to eclipse that number.

After that, Ty Cobb and then Pete Rose’s all-time hits record. Who’s to say he can’t reach 4,000 and beyond?

How much longer can Jeter continue his greatness?  Will he reach 4,000 hits before his career comes to a close?  Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.